Houston (6-3) at Detroit (4-5)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Sat Nov 18, 2006
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No lead—no matter how big—has been safe for the Houston Rockets this season. They’ll to avoid another second-half breakdown Saturday when they visit the Detroit Pistons.

After blowing a 19-point lead in a 92-84 loss Tuesday to San Antonio, the Rockets (6-3) barely held on after building a 21-point lead in Thursday’s 101-100 win over the Chicago Bulls. Houston has also been fortunate after failing to maintain large second-half leads in wins over Memphis, Milwaukee and New York.

“To have breakdowns like that is really uncalled for,” forward Tracy McGrady said. “Moving forward, we have to do something about that.”

Houston will look to win its second consecutive game and fourth straight on the road Saturday.

McGrady posted his first double-double of the season Thursday with 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Yao Ming added 20 points and 12 rebounds and is averaging 25.7 points and 9.8 rebounds this season.

Despite the individual success, the Rockets were outscored 47-27 by the Bulls to close the game, but still managed to win thanks to a 23-of-28 performance from the foul line.

Still, it wasn’t enough to avoid concern from the Houston players.

“We’ve just got to find a way to lock in, the same way we lock in through the first three quarters,” said point guard Rafer Alston, who had a season-high 19 points against the Bulls. “It’s mind-boggling now—back-to-back—to have such a lead and then let it evaporate like that.”

The Rockets will need a consistent effort Saturday at a place they haven’t won in almost six years.

Houston has lost its last five games to Detroit, both at the Palace of Auburn Hills and overall. Its last win in Detroit was 103-90 on Feb. 8, 2001. The Rockets have lost seven of their last eight games to the Pistons, with their last win coming Dec. 6, 2003.

The Pistons (4-5) will try to win consecutive games for the first time since beating Boston and Memphis on back-to-back nights in the first week of the season. Detroit beat Washington 100-91 Friday to snap avoid a three-game losing streak.

“Obviously, this won’t be the last time we lose two in a row, but it seemed more like five or six because we weren’t playing the way we are supposed to play,” guard Chauncey Billups said. “I couldn’t even sleep, because I was so mad about the way we were playing.”

Richard Hamilton continues to play well after missing two games last week with a hyperextended right elbow. The veteran guard had 27 points and a season-high eight rebounds against the Wizards, and has 50 points in his last two games since returning to action.

Detroit didn’t lose its sixth game last season until Jan. 31, but without Ben Wallace in the middle, it has stuggled at times defending smaller lineups. Detroit has allowed less than 100 points in all four of its wins and 100 or more in four of its five losses.

The Pistons were able to find success inside against Washington’s smaller lineup. Forwards Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince combined for 40 points and 17 rebounds.

“It’s like I’m coaching in the CBA again, where no one has a guy over 6-8,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “To counter teams going small against us, we have to be able to counter it by pounding it inside.”

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Saturday, Nov 18